SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — If life really is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it, then Kristin Hanes could teach us all a thing or two about the art of the comeback.
After losing her job and worrying about rent, Hanes was almost a victim of the housing affordability crisis in the Bay Area. Instead, she turned her misfortune into fortune.
“I learned I could live with less,” Hanes said.
In 2015 she lost her job and her rent became impossible to pay. “After a layoff, I was like I can’t keep shelling out that money and I don’t have an income,” Hanes said.
So she started living in a 25-year-old van with her boyfriend. Every night they cruised around, looking for a safe place to sleep, often knowing where they parked wasn’t legal.
“There is a fine line like, are we going to get a knock? Is someone going to kick us out? But we do leave at 6:00 a.m. and get there late so we have a low footprint,” Hanes said.
All of the adjustments to downsizing started to feel like a full time job, so she decided to make it her full time job.
“I never knew blogs were a thing until I learned about another woman living in an RV making $100,000 a month on her blog and I was like, blogs make money? I need to try this!”
So she launched The Wayward Home. “I thought it would appeal to a lot of people trying to do the same thing as me,” Hanes said.
As it turns out, her life with her boyfriend Tom struck a chord. “The main reason I could make it work is because I wasn’t paying rent, if I had high living expenses I wouldn’t have been able to start a business for the first year it was piddly. I was making like $20 a month.”
The blog is now fully monetized with advertisements and commission from sponsors. Between her and Tom’s income, they were able to pay off a sailboat, another tiny home she also blogs about.
“I’m trying to be inspirational to people, telling stories of people living this way to inspire people that they can do it,” Hanes said.
She says she regularly connects with retirees who don’t have much money saved, or people who are worried, like she was, about being priced out. She makes this lifestyle look glamorous, camping at national parks and sailing to Mexico on a whim, though she knows her family doesn’t always see it that way.
“I think they think we’re very unique. I don’t think they would want to do it,” she said with a laugh.
Before becoming a blogger, Kristin worked as a radio reporter, a job she says didn’t pay much and would have eventually lead to her displacement. Now in control of her own narrative, she’s still a storyteller, and might not have been if things hadn’t gone a bit wayward.
“There’s so much interest and so many cities that people are priced out of and so many retirees searching for a different way to live,” she said.
The Wayward Home is doing so well that Hanes could afford to rent an apartment again, but she says she wouldn’t dream of it. If anything, she says if she goes back to brick and mortar, it would have to be a tiny home.